Epiphany Homily by St. Jerome of Stridonium


Our venerable and God-bearing father Jerome was noted as a scholar of Latin at the time when Greek was considered the language of scholarship. He was one of the most learned of the Fathers of the Western Church and is noted as the translator of the holy scriptures into Latin. This translation, the Vulgate, became the official biblical text of the Roman Catholic Church. A critic of secular excesses, he was a strong defender of the Orthodox faith against the heresies of his time.

The Feast of the Epiphany is called by its Greek name epipháneia, which is the Greek expression for our concept of appearance, or manifestation. This, therefore, is the title given to our Lord and Savior’s manifestation on earth.

Even though He had been born of Mary and had already completed thirty years of His life, nevertheless, He was unknown to the world. His identity was revealed at the time when He came to the Jordan to be baptized by John the Baptist, and the voice of the Father was heard thundering from heaven:

This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Mt 3:17).

The Father had proclaimed Him by His voice from the heavens, and the Holy Spirit, settling upon His head in the form of a dove, ordained to make Him known by that revelation, lest people mistake anyone else for the Son of God. What is more sublime than His humility, more noble than His belittlement?

He is baptized by His servant and He is named Son by God.

Along the publicans, prostitutes, and sinners, He came for baptism, and He is holier than the one who baptizes.

He is purified by John in the flesh, but He purifies John in the spirit.

The waters that had been wont to cleanse others are now purified by the cleansing of our Lord. The Jordan river that dried up when Joshua led the Israelites into the Land of Promise, now longed to gather together all its waters into one place, if it could, to bathe the body of the Lord.

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